Ecclesiastes 7:23

23 All this I tested by wisdom and I said, “I am determined to be wise”— but this was beyond me.

Ecclesiastes 7:23 in Other Translations

23 All this have I proved by wisdom: I said, I will be wise; but it was far from me.
23 All this I have tested by wisdom. I said, "I will be wise," but it was far from me.
23 I have always tried my best to let wisdom guide my thoughts and actions. I said to myself, “I am determined to be wise.” But it didn’t work.
23 I tested everything in my search for wisdom. I set out to be wise, but it was beyond me,
23 I have tested all this by wisdom. I resolved, "I will be wise," but it was beyond me.

Ecclesiastes 7:23 Meaning and Commentary

Ecclesiastes 7:23

All this have I proved by wisdom
Referring either to all that he had been discoursing of hitherto in this book, concerning the vanity of natural wisdom and knowledge, of pleasure, power, and riches; or to the several useful instructions given in this chapter, particularly concerning patiently bearing everything from the hands of God or men, ( Ecclesiastes 7:8-22 ) . This, by the help and use of that wisdom which God had given him, he had made trial of, and found it to be right, and therefore recommended it to others; though he acknowledges that, with all his wisdom, he was from perfection; I said, I will be wise; but it [was] far from me;
he determined, if possible, to attain to the perfection of wisdom, and made use of all means to come at it; that he might know all the works of God in creation, the nature, use, and excellency of them; in providence, his different dispensations towards the sons of men, and the causes of them; and in grace, the redemption and salvation of men, and the mysteries thereof; but the more he knew, the more he was convinced of his own ignorance, and seemed further off from the summit of knowledge than he was before; and plainly saw, that perfection in wisdom is not attainable in this life. The Targum restrains this to the wisdom of the law; but it is better to understand it in a more general sense.

Ecclesiastes 7:23 In-Context

21 Do not pay attention to every word people say, or you may hear your servant cursing you—
22 for you know in your heart that many times you yourself have cursed others.
23 All this I tested by wisdom and I said, “I am determined to be wise”— but this was beyond me.
24 Whatever exists is far off and most profound— who can discover it?
25 So I turned my mind to understand, to investigate and to search out wisdom and the scheme of things and to understand the stupidity of wickedness and the madness of folly.

Cross References 1

  • 1. S Ecclesiastes 1:17; Romans 1:22
Scripture quoted by permission.  Quotations designated (NIV) are from THE HOLY BIBLE: NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®.  NIV®.  Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica.  All rights reserved worldwide.